|Review by jred||posted 11-09-2010 05:06 PM||6811 views||0 times favorited||5 comments|
My wife spoke words to me recently that I thought I’d never hear (at least not on her own volition). She told me that I should get a lathe! What a woman!
I have been looking at “midi” sized lathes for a long time and really like the jet 12×20 I used at a woodcraft class. Two problems: There has not been a reasonably priced used Jet lathe go up for sale in the entire state in over six months (I’ve checked Craigslist and Ebay regularly). Second problem: new lathes are almost twice as expensive now as they were two or three years ago.
I came across this lathe two weeks ago, at the same time I found out that Jet would be having a lathe sale this month. $299 + tax = $320 for the Jet 1014 (non VS) which has favorable reviews all across the net, or $250 (Free shipping) for the Shop Fox which has had almost no review anywhere besides Amazon and those merely talk about the shipping problems they’ve had. What a decision! For most of you that wouldn’t be so hard… get the Jet! But, this is my first lathe and funds are really limited and I’m told that tools cost as much as the lathe itself. So…. I took the risk and bought the Shop Fox, figuring that if it was trash i could always send it back to Amazon in time to pick up the Jet on sale. If it works, then i’ve got $75 to use on tools and accessories.
Well, I won’t be sending it back. The box was mangled when it arrived and missing were the live center, and both bolts that hold the tool rest to the banjo. Instead of calling amazon to complain (would have had to send the whole thing back and wait for another one), i called Shop Fox and expect the missing pieces in the mail any day now. In the meantime, I had the right size bolts for the tool rest at home, and went ahead and got a nice 60 degree live center from woodcraft (impatience). Aside from that, the lathe is impressive in heft and size. Definitely rugged enough for what I will be doing (pens and small bowls, possibly some spindles for fun)
The tailstock has a slight amount of play to it, but usually locks down in perfect alignment to the headstock. The motor is a full 1/2 horse. Maybe the China motor will die but if it does, I’ll probably get the variable speed kit from PSI at that point so no biggie.
The lathe runs quitely and has almost no vibration (although pens aren’t really testing it’s limits). I checked runout on the headstock with a dial indicator and found less than a thousandth movement. The switch is kind of flimsy, but works fine and can be replaced easily if necessary. Pulley’s aren’t machined as neatly as the Jet’s, but the belt is easier to change on the Shop Fox.
Is it a better lathe than the Jet? Probably not. Is it as good? Probably. If I had the money, I might go ahead and get the Jet on sale locally just because anything mail order will be sight unsean and could have potential problesm. If the Jet was regular price, forget it. This lathe will do just as well. Grizzly offers an identical lathe if you’re partial to the brand, but with free shipping from Amazon, this is the better deal.